Salford 10 St Helens 32: Saints making late surge under Rush
22:40 GMT, 22 June 2012
22:40 GMT, 22 June 2012
Mike Rush hailed Jon Wilkin's impact as St Helens produced 32 unanswered points to secure a dogged win.
Saints came back from 10-0 down after Vinnie Anderson and Danny Williams had got the Reds off to a flyer and Rush said: 'Jon's been in good form a few weeks now. He pushes, kicks and defends really well.
'He's having a very good season for us. We took our chances well.'
Thomas Makinson of St Helens (L) evades a tackle from Jodie Broughton of Salford City to score their third try
Josh Jones and Lance Hohaia levelled the scores for Saints before Wilkin's high kick saw Tommy Makinson edge the visitors ahead. Tries for Jonny Lomax, Michael Shenton and Paul Wellens sealed the points.
'We were in the game right until the end. I'm disappointed for a lot of the guys in the dressing room,' said Salford boss Phil Veivers.
Salford let slip a 10-0 lead against St Helens for the second time this season as Rush's men continued their impressive run in the Stobart Super League.
The Reds conceded 38 points without reply in going down 38-10 at Langtree Park in February and there was a touch of deja vu as they were once more unable to maintain their early promise, with Saints finishing strongly at the City of Salford Stadium.
Saints have now lost just two of 11 league matches under Rush and Keiron Cunningham, both to leaders Wigan, and have their sights set firmly on a seventh consecutive Grand Final appearance.
Salford have little left to play for apart from pride but the final scoreline did little justice to their efforts, with the visitors running in three converted tries in the last six minutes. St Helens were without prop Josh Perry but they had all nine players involved in last Saturday's internationals and two of them, Lance Hohaia and Jonny Lomax, especially caught the eye.
Yet Salford dominated the first half, highlighted by touches of class from stand-off Daniel Holdsworth in particular, and they deserved their 10-6 half-time lead.
Hohaia breached the Salford line midway through the first half but referee James Child had spotted an obstruction and it was the Reds who opened the scoring three minutes later.
Inevitably, Holdsworth was at the heart of the move as he supplied the final pass for former St Helens back rower Vinnie Anderson to go past Paul Wellens for a try, to which Holdsworth added the conversion.
Hohaia had another try disallowed, this time for a knock-on, before Salford stretched their lead through Danny Williams.
The former Newcastle Falcons winger, who this week signed a new two-year contract, produced a superb finish after Salford ran the ball on the last tackle and Chris Nero cleverly drew the Saints defence out of position.
St Helens hauled themselves back into the game just before the break when centre Josh Jones collected Hohaia's towering kick to touch down and Tom Makinson added the goal to cut the gap to four points.
It was all square two minutes into the second half when Hohaia went over from dummy half for Saints' second try and the visitors went in front for the first time on 53 minutes when Jon Wilkin's kick hung in the wind and enabled centre Michael Shenton to get Makinson over at the corner.
Makinson was unable to master the wind with either of his latest conversion attempts but, at 14-10, the momentum was firmly with the visitors.
The Reds continued to look lively but they suffered a blow when tough-tackling forward Shannon McPherson hobbled off on 65 minutes and there was no way back for them when Wellens tapped the ball back from Wilkin's high kick for Lomax to touch down.
Saints then made sure with two further tries through Shenton, who followed up his own grubber kick, and Wellens, with substitute Lee Gaskell kicking three conversions.